Romanian anti-austerity demonstrations now in eighth day

Romanian anti-austerity demonstrations now in eighth day

Romanian anti-austerity demonstrations have now spread across sixty cities, and are now in their eighth day.

Anti-austerity demonstrations in Romania are now into their eighth day. Protests have continued across the country’s biggest cities, with thousands of people demanding the resignation of the President Traian Basescu, and the Prime Minister Emil Boc.

Last night in Bucharest, over fifty people were arrested following violent clashes with the police. Local media have reported that five people required hospital treatment.

The protests started just over a week ago following the government’s attempt to push through unpopular health and social care reforms. The Romanian people saw this as the straw that broke the camel’s back, as they had seen two years of harsh austerity measures such as, 25% pay cuts, increases in income tax, and VAT rises, imposed on them at the demand of the IMF, in order to secure billions in bail-out loans.

"They've done only bad moves, the government does nothing to raise our living standards. Our low pay makes us second-hand Europeans," said 42-year old Daniela Lupu, a public clerk at the demonstrations"

A popular health minister resigned over the reforms, and the people took to the streets. Romanian media has reported that demonstrations and rallies have taken place in over sixty cities, with varying degrees of violence in all of them.

There has been concern expressed by the Romanian media that many journalists have been attacked by the police, or illegally detained.

Despite the protests, the government remain defiant, and have said that they will not be changing their plans.

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working class s...
Jan 21 2012 17:39


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Jan 22 2012 23:26
Jan 23 2012 23:42

Protests in Romania enter their second week

Romanians discover street protest

In 2011, the government introduced legislation to outlaw public gatherings near public institutions without permission as well as legislation allowing private companies to conduct expropriations in the name of the state. This last law was meant as a direct tool to help Canadian company Gold Corporation finally win its long-term battle with locals to open a cyanide-based gold exploitation in Rosia Montana, western Romania.

The end of last year saw the emergence of small episodes of public mobilisation against these government tactics: using the headings of the Spanish indignados or of the Occupy movement, young people in major cities protested the expropriation law, often merging this theme with calls for better grassroots representation.

Apparently inconsequential, these actions now find their natural continuation in this month’s protests. But what makes the current protests particularly striking is their bringing together of young educated people with other social categories most hit by austerity measures: pensioners, working class, even the homeless.

Banners seen in the centres of major towns exhibit anti-government slogans, image associations between President Basescu and communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, calls for direct democracy, criticisms of corruption (a popular display is ‘We apologise for not being able to produce as much as you steal’), expressions of desperation such as ‘We are hungry’, but also more specific demands such as the halt of the Rosia Montana project, free healthcare and decent education for all, rights for the disabled.

"There is a lot of trust among people, it is easy to discuss everything with those around even though many social groups and political positions are present, from pensioners who come and spend the afternoon in the square and working class middle aged ladies, to NGO activists, punks, anarchists, hipsters and football fans," says PhD student Mihai Lukacs who has participated in the demonstrations.

"Everyone is looking for the same thing, direct participation, direct democracy - all political representatives attempting to come to the square have been rejected by the people. The same thing happened with fascist groups such as the New Right: they were kicked out of the square by protesters."

Feb 7 2012 11:28